Just like its predecessor, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow for the GBA does a good job squeezing that ol’ high-tech 3D Sam Fisher feeling into a 2D side-scrolling package. The crux of the game, not surprisingly, is stealth: hiding in shadows while soldiers walk by, ducking behind a curtain before a camera detects you, sneaking up behind soldiers and taking them down before they can trigger an alarm. It’s not very realistic—the A.I. is really dumb; there are lock-picking, first-person “hunting,” and code-breaking mini-games; and the levels are set up almost like a 2D side-scrolling puzzle game—so if trial-and-error gameplay turns you off, you might want to stay away.
All of Sam’s moves and abilities are easy to wrangle; switching your vision type from night vision to thermal is one menu away, and scouting the area is a simple matter of holding down a shoulder button. If you screw up a mission, you never feel that it’s because of the controls.
The graphics and sounds owe a lot to the original, composed of sharp, utilitarian visuals with semistiff character animation, terse vocal effects, rather pitiable gunfire effects, and a bare-bones soundtrack with occasional bizarre leanings toward jungle synth. In other words, don’t worry if you forget your headphones.
Even though Pandora Tomorrow looks and feels a lot like Pandora Yesterday, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game. A little slow, a little frustrating, sure, but still fun.